Wob: Exploring The Aftermath of Kyrie’s Phone Call to LeBron
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured (left to right): Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.
- Kyrie Irving revealed to the public that he sought LeBron James' council on handling his leadership role with the Celtics after a bad loss to the Orlando Magic.
- That in turn set off a firestorm of speculation about his intentions, and the relationship between the two NBA superstars.
- Rob Perez digs into the aftermath of the mysterious phone call.
The dust has settled.
After a long week of bad losses, cryptic postgame press conference quotes, subtweets, and questions whether one of the East’s best teams can figure this all out before it’s too late — the Celtics responded with a gutty, revitalizing win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
At the nucleus of the victory was Kyrie Irving, who recorded a career-high 18 assists and unleashed an explosion of Uncle Drew highlights to get Boston to the finish line.
Following the contest, the Celtics players went through the motions of answering questions from the media — and it happened.
📹 Kyrie explains why he called LeBron James after finally understood what being a leader is all about pic.twitter.com/oZsXKIMeSq
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 17, 2019
Out of nowhere, Kyrie revealed to the world that he … called LeBron? To apologize???
Wait a second…
The Capulet and Montague families don’t just call each other to say what’s up. The Corleone’s don’t text the Barzini’s for advice.
This is a big deal, as the rumors stretch far and wide about the beef between Irving and James during their tenure together in Cleveland — from Irving supposedly not wanting LeBron to come back to the Cavs in 2014, to Irving mistakenly believing James wanted him gone, to Drederick Irving (Kyrie’s dad) allegedly having beef with LeBron, to Irving just straight up saying he didn’t want to play with LeBron anymore, to LeBron’s “It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved, but also score at the same time” shade after Kyrie was dealt to Boston.
It’s up to you to determine what’s actually true because there’s honestly a theory, article, or quote about every possibility. Ultimately, as detailed in full by The Athletic’s Joe Vardon, Kyrie reached out to LeBron when he was, coincidentally, with Kevin Love in Los Angeles.
While what was said during the call word-for-word remains a mystery, though Irving did elaborate that the intention of the call was to apologize for being “that young guy” who didn’t understand what LeBron was dealing with as a veteran leader and that it occurred following the Celtics’ high-tension defeat in Orlando.
While this all seems calm and genuine on the surface, there are some questions left to answer.
Why did Kyrie make this public?
What we don’t yet know from The Athletic’s reporting is if this story was written before or after Irving made this public to the media. If the story was written before, did Irving know it was going to be published Thursday morning and attempt to get out and control the narrative?
He said he wants to be a better leader, and what better way to do so than publicly admit your wrongs and request constructive criticism from your former adversary colleague?
If the story drops before Kyrie gets a say, he may never get the chance to plead his case without a biased jury. If he didn’t know the story was coming, it makes the call and his explanation a little more genuine — does it not?
Was LeBron OK with Kyrie divulging the details of the phone call?
Vardon’s reporting reveals that LeBron was “appreciative” of the call. Humility, maturity, and growth got the win over the usual NBA pettiness.
But was this meant to stay in house?
Did Kyrie ask LeBron’s permission to tell the world about their discussion?
It’s just my own personal opinion, but if my former wingman and I had this heart-to-heart after all we’ve been through and you go and blabber about everything we talked about — that sure seems like a violation of trust.
On the contrary, even if LeBron didn’t give Kyrie his blessing, this is a great look for him as well. Kyrie bent the knee. Finally.
They don’t call him The King for nothing, and if LeBron can get even the most defiant of former teammates to kneel before the Iron Throne and pledge a life of servitude to the teachings of House James — then his legacy as the game’s greatest player, in his own words, is one step closer to being solidified.
Did Kyrie say this to plant his flag?
The blown lead and loss to the lowly Magic illustrated Irving’s clear and visible frustration with his Celtics teammates and coaching staff.
Kyrie Irving was visibly upset with Gordon Hayward following a bad loss to the Magic. pic.twitter.com/crR3XADR3v
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) January 13, 2019
He had this to say following the game:
“The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship level team. What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the Finals?”
And what the team was currently missing?
“Experience. It’s the best thing I can say is experience… We’re lacking it, and because of that, we have a lot of learning left to do. So we have a lot of ground to make up in that aspect.
“I know from the majority of the fact that we’re better than most teams in this league … It’s just going out and proving it every single night and demanding it and actually showing it. It’s not easy to be great.”
This can be interpreted about 1000 different ways — that Irving is growing tired of the Celtics’ young guys, he doesn’t feel like this is a team ready to go into the trenches of fourth quarter playoff basketball because they haven’t gotten enough regular season reps yet, or maybe he wasn’t even thinking about his fellow teammates at all and was just venting out of frustration.
Only Irving knows the true answer to this.
However, during his postgame call-revealing interview, Irving does say he apologized to LeBron “for being that young player who wanted everything at his finger tips, wanting to be the guy who lead us to a championship, to be the leader.”
Does that translate to him saying ‘Now I’m in your spot, as the leader in Boston, and see what you were going through dealing with all these young guys who think they’re king?’ Did Irving just indirectly lead a hostile takeover of the Celtics franchise and deliver his “Look at me, I’m the captain now” declaration?
It's like an adult telling his parents, "Wow, I was so stupid when I was a kid. I put you through so much."
Doing that in front of your kids, the point is not JUST to thank parents but also indirectly tell kids they are a pain in the ass and they will one day realize it too. https://t.co/PjUnx0ePA7
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) January 17, 2019
Or maybe he didn’t. Only time will tell.
Is LeBron playing chess again?
While he says he’s thankful for the call, the animosity between them may be put to rest by one of the parties — but potentially not both. In addition, let’s not forget that James plays for the Lakers and Irving is on the Celtics. Blood rival franchises who have despised each other from birth.
LeBron has been one step ahead of the media, teammates, opponents, front office executives, and fans for more than 16 years. EVERYTHING he does is calculated and you can count on one hand the number of times that he was seemingly caught by surprise.
Was his conversation with Kyrie honest? Or is this him puppeteering one of his biggest rivals for a future chess move?
What happened after LeBron didn’t pick up?
He reportedly showed the room his phone when Kyrie’s name popped up on the home screen and called him back in private.
That means LeBron didn’t pick up the original inbound call.
- What level of thirst did Kyrie have to speak to James?
- Was it one of those calls you drop on someone and just assume they’re going to call you back without any explanation why you called in the first place?
- Did he leave a voicemail requesting a call back?
- Did he leave a voicemail and deliver his full apology there?
- How long did he make Kyrie wait before returning it?
- Would LeBron have returned the call if he didn’t know what it was about?
I need to know the exact process of this, the details of these mind games are as important as the content of the conversation itself.
If this doesn’t go in does Kyrie still tell us about the call?
This was Kyrie’s “I’M THE MAN UP IN THIS PIECE,” Denzel Washington in ‘Training Day’ moment.
A reminder to the world that yes, it was me who hit that Game 7 shot in Oracle Arena. Draw up whatever play you want, the ball is going to end up in my hands and I’m going to drop this bucket on their head however damn well I please.
You have to imagine he was feeling himself after that moment. The same way when you get a little truth serum alcohol in your system, the buzz gives you the strength to discuss things you may not in sober circumstances.
Pardon me for a moment while I do my best Dr. Strange impression and go forward in time to see the possibilities of what happens after Wednesday’s game if Kyrie doesn’t go nuclear.
We got the juicy update we needed regarding one of the NBA’s most notorious player vs. player Cold Wars, now we wait to see if the sequel is as good as the original.